Former top junior player Francis Casey Alcantara hopes to combine tennis and academics when he joins the California State University varsity team in the NCAA.

The 18-year-old Alcantara earned an athletic scholarship from California State, more commonly known as Fresno State, after leaving big impression in several international tournaments, including the juniors of the Australian Open.

The pride of Cagayan de Oro made history as the first Filipino to win a Grand Slam title when he teamed up with Taiwanese Hsieh Cheng-peng to clinch the juniors doubles crown.

He will fly to Fresno, California on Jan. 8 and will start attending classes in business management on January 11.

In the Division of the US NCAA, Fresno State will take the challenge of Boise State, Hawaii, Idaho,Nevada, New Mexico State and Utah State in the Western Athletic Conference.

Although he did not achieve his goal of winning a singles Grand Slam during his junior career, Alcantara said he feels more than blessed at having accomplished things at a young age.

His Australian Open title win propelled his International Tennis Federation (ITF) rankings to a career-high of No. 14, earning him invitation to several high-ranked tournaments around the globe.

He ended his junior career last July with a second round finish in the Wimbledon Open singles in Great Britain.

“Para sa akin, lahat ng mga yun – yung Grand Slaam title, yung top 15 sa ITF, yung scholarship – malaking achievement na lalo na sa ganitong edad. At saka plano ko rin talagang makapag-aral sa college,” Alcantara earlier said.

He was supposed to start college last September but decided to give himself a break to be with his family before getting busy with his studies and athletic obligations.

Alcantara, however, said he is not closing his doors on turning professional and representing the country in the future, but for now, all he wanted was to continue his studies and become one of the best players in his university.

article by Kristel Satumbaga of Manila Bulletin

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